On the occasion of World AIDS Day, celebrated worldwide on December 1st, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, President of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, issued a statement calling for a more integral approach to fighting AIDS, not limited to so-called “safe sex.”
In the message, Cardinal Lozano says that he wishes to join the efforts and initiatives that will take place around the world in the area of prevention and assistance to the sick.
On behalf of the Catholic Church, the Cardinal sent “a message of love and hope for the families and people who are afflicted by this terrible evil,” as well as to the international organizations, institutions and Catholic agencies that are committed to fighting against the “dreadful scourge.”
On behalf of the Holy Father, Cardinal Lozano also urges everyone “to study and search together for new ways and ideal means of helping the people and especially the youth to adopt morals and a style of life that respects the authentic values of life and love.”
After recalling that at the end of 2002, according to official statistics, 42 million people were living with HIV/AIDS, of which 19.2 million were women and 3.2 million were children under 15 years of age, the President of the Council for Health Care Ministry writes that “the commitment and action of the Church on different continents involves prevention, education, and multiform assistance to patients and families.”
Cardinal Lozano recalls that the pastoral action of the Church involves the formation of health care workers, prevention through health education; health care and assistance, charity towards the patients in hospitals and health centers, contributing to the improvement of the physical, psychological and spiritual conditions of the patients; as well as the pastoral accompanying of sick people.
“If the main risk behaviors are pan-sexualism and drug addition, then poverty, urbanization, unemployment, mobility, immigration and mass media are major contributing factors in the spread of the disease,” the Cardinal writes, recalling that the teaching of John Paul II treats the nature of the phenomenon –described as “a pathology of the spirit”- and proposes a prevention “based on the sacredness of life and responsible sexuality.”
This message “is particularly addressed to health professionals,” to “civil authorities who have to provide correct information to the population and aid to the poor,” as well as to scientists and researchers “so that they may discover new effective medications that are capable of stemming the phenomenon.”
“On the personal level, the Church invites each and every one to step up prevention according to the doctrine of the Church,” which includes revisiting “the sacrament of reconciliation, to reawaken in the patients the Christian meaning of life.”
“On the community level, the following actions are suggested: to support parish activities or initiatives in the fight against HIV/AIDS,” “to pay attention to the government policies on AIDS,” and finally, “to give financial support to the initiatives and projects on AIDS.”
The document concludes by inviting the international community, governments and the Church in particular to “promote the campaign for sensitizing and educating the population,” taking care “of the humanitarian, social and health needs of orphans; to be committed to the globalization of the universal common good of health;” and to avoid every form of exclusion or discrimination” of people who are HIV positive or AIDS patients.
On Sunday, at the end of the Angelus prayer, Pope John Paul said that AIDS “is unfortunately still spreading, especially in the poorest countries.”
“While I pray for those who are afflicted by this scourge, I encourage all those in the Church who offer the inestimable service of acceptance, healing and spiritual support to these brothers and sisters of ours.”